Picking up the refuse of 1,000 homes every day

AT WORK

At Work

February 15, 2006

Andre Rawlings

Sanitation worker

D & P Refuse Inc., Glen Burnie

Salary --$80 a day

Age --38

Years on the job --nine

Typical day --Rawlings works Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturday mornings. His hours vary according to which route he is working that day. If he starts a route by 6 a.m., he usually can finish by 12:30 p.m. He rides on the back of the trash truck, as one of two throwers. He collects trash from routes in Howard County, working one route a day. When the truck is full, they drive it to the landfill to unload. They then pick back up where they left off. Each day Rawlings picks up trash from about 1,000 homes.

Physically demanding --Rawlings said full trash cans are supposed to weigh less than 40 pounds, but many times are much heavier. Also, Rawlings says, the cans are often filled with items that are not supposed to be collected, such as building materials, paint and lumber. "I'm an active person, so I look at it as a workout."

No benefits --Rawlings works for an independent contractor and is not a county employee. The job does not come with benefits. Routes go to the lowest bidder, Rawlings says. "So if someone bids under, we lose the route even though we are doing a good job."

Hanging on the back of the truck --"It's not really hard. Once you know where to put your hand, then you're all right. It's harder getting off the truck."

The good --"The people around me."

The bad --"I don't think people know how dangerous it is. People put things out there like glass, saw blades, flammables and stuff like that. You can really cut your fingers."

The worst item picked up --Dead animals.

Windy days --"We try to lay the cans down on the lawns, or near a tree or curb so the wind won't blow them away."

Philosophy on the job --"Be careful. Watch what you are doing."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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